Study of 21 retired NFL & NHL players doesn’t find evidence of early onset dementia

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http://www.buffalo.edu/news/releases/2018/08/006.html

EXCERPT: . . . The study, which the researchers note, involved “a relatively small sample of former athletes,” did not find evidence of early onset dementia in the retired players, which would be expected with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). The comprehensive, case-control study is believed to be the first age-matched athlete comparison designed to identify in retired living athletes cognitive symptoms or imaging findings that would indicate the presence of early onset dementia.

CTE in athletes has been linked to a history of concussive or sub-concussive hits. The researchers’ overview paper notes: “…research to date on CTE based on pathological studies implies that most athletes who played contact sports professionally have a high probability of eventually experiencing CTE.”

Most athletes with CTE damage do experience early onset dementia, although there is also some evidence that it may be possible to have CTE damage without clinical symptoms. The condition can only be diagnosed for certain after death.

“We don’t deny that CTE exists in some former athletes,” said Barry S. Willer, PhD, professor of psychiatry in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB, lead investigator and co-author on the papers. “It has been linked to contact sports and concussions that happen while playing those sports, but it’s not a sure thing.

“The larger question is, how prevalent is the problem?”

The UB study was begun, in part, to address some limitations of previous studies on athletes and CTE. [...] The assumption has been that CTE is a result of repetitive concussions and/or non-concussive hits sustained while playing sports. It has also been seen in the brains of much younger individuals. Investigators on these postmortem studies have cited selection bias and the lack of a control group, that is, donated brains from people who didn’t play contact sports, as important limitations....

MORE: http://www.buffalo.edu/news/releases/2018/08/006.html
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